Gratitude

This morning started out rough as the weight of all we’re enduring hit me. Sometimes I wish I could live in a happy state of denial (“the pandemic is over and X, Y, Z aren’t happening, either!”), and eagerly greet each new day. Alas, I’m not wired that way.

The good news is, I’m feeling better now.
The birds are singing and the sun is shining.
Gratitude!

Backyard. August 4, 2022

And I’m forever grateful that sunflowers exist.

Climate Movement Monday: STOP the Dirty Deal!

Welcome back to Movement Mondays! Today my time-sensitive ask is that you make quick phone calls to your representatives AND/OR send emails regarding Senator Manchin’s side deal portion of the Inflation Reduction Act that would gut environmental regulations (Clean Water Act!) and accelerate the federal permitting process for energy projects. This legislation is a gift to the fossil fuels industry and Manchin’s #1 project priority is the Mountain Valley Pipeline.  [NOTE: more background info and links below.]

Basic message: Vote NO to this side deal that will accelerate the climate crisis and is just a gift to the fossil fuel industry.

CALL
917-791-2257 will give you a brief script then connect you to your Senators (thanks to the People vs. Fossil Fuels Coalition).

202-224-3121 is the Capitol Switchboard where you can ask to be connected to your senators and representative.

You may also, of course, call directly to your representatives’ DC and local offices

EMAIL
If you aren’t comfortable making phone calls, you may use your representatives’ email contact form to send your message.

BACKGROUND INFO:

This action is VERY important and phone calls from constituents carry a lot of weight. PLEASE take the time to urge your representatives: NO to the permitting side deal!

Solidarity! ✊🏽

PSA: We’re all in this together

A friend is struggling mightily right now, and she’s not alone in her feeling of overwhelm and hopelessness. Every one of us is dealing with personal stuff on top of the societal and planetary crises. I want to note this here and now, as a reminder for the next time someone cuts me off in traffic or doesn’t return a wave or any number of completely trivial things that might wind me up.

Everyone is dealing with way too much these days. But we’re all in this together and we are all we’ve got.

So, it’s good to extend a little grace whenever we can. 🌻

My Five Touchstones

Like many others, I’ve been struggling under the weight of reality. (I started to list the many crises here then realized there’s no need to drag me or my readers down yet again). The point it, stuff’s really hard. Some days I’m not sure how to keep going. Those feelings were so strong a couple mornings ago that I was compelled during my intuition activation session to ask “What’s the point?”

I received five words:
Joy              Nature               Compassion               Justice               Peace

They immediately resonated with me and are my new touchstones for keeping me afloat. When I start feeling overwhelmed and defeated, I return to those five words. Today, I dedicate this post to them.

For instance, the JOY I felt when watching Emma enthusiastically splash and drink from the stream while hiking last September.

Cataract Lake. September 27, 2021

And on that same hike, glorious NATURE completely rejuvenated my soul.

Cataract Lake. September 27, 2021

The best way to live is by showing COMPASSION for others, as exemplified by this child as he helps a lamb reunite with its mother.

This morning I rejoiced in the news of JUSTICE served in Louisiana after the community organized to defeat Formosa Plastics in its attempt to build one of the world’s largest plastics plants in a Black community. Solidarity!

Finally, there’s always a sense of PEACE when watching birds in our yard, especially in the quiet after a snowfall.

Goldfinch in backyard.  October 24, 2019

Yes, life’s a hard row to hoe. But there are always glimmers of good along the way. Remember: JOY. NATURE. COMPASSION. JUSTICE. PEACE.

Climate Movement Monday: in support of Healthy Gulf

Today is the 17th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the 1-year anniversary of Hurricane Ida. These devastating storms destroyed Gulf communities that are still struggling to rebuild. The storms were climate-induced, but the negligent government response was 100% man-made. [Note: Below is a Twitter thread re Katrina along with an article that includes profiles of people in Louisiana coastal parishes fighting to rebuild after Ida. I highly recommend reading both.]

Photo by Jerry Brown (HUD) aerial view of impact of Hurricane Katrina 9/12/2005

Healthy Gulf is a coalition of five states along the Gulf of Mexico. Their core values include Environmental Health: We believe that supporting the environmental health and ecosystem richness of the Gulf region is necessary to secure quality of life, sense of place, economic vitality, and social justice within all Gulf communities.

Today’s climate action is to send a letter demanding no new oil and gas leases in the Gulf. As always, the template is there for you to send as-is, or personalize. The most important thing is to lend your name and voice to this fight.

Here’s the link to some background information and the petition.

Thank you in advance for standing in solidarity with coastal communities. We can and must protect them from further needless pollution and catastrophe. ✊🏽

READ BELOW for eye-opening & heart-breaking personal accounts of living through Hurricanes Katrina and Ida.

https://southerlymag.org/2022/08/29/they-want-us-gone-black-louisianans-fight-to-rebuild-a-year-after-ida/

Climate & the Inflation Reduction Act

In case you hadn’t heard, this past weekend the Senate voted to approve the Inflation Reduction Act which contains climate policy. There are good components to that policy, but there are also horrific pieces. No surprise there since coal-baron Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and his fossil fuel buddies pretty much wrote the policy that has Exxon, Shell, and BP executives jumping for joy.  A “climate” bill that makes oil and gas happy is not a good deal for the planet.

For instance: solar and wind projects are contingent upon expanding oil and gas drilling . . . millions of acres on and offshore.  That’s right, the very thing driving the climate crisis — fossil fuels –will be expanded.

And who will suffer most? The frontline communities. The people already impacted by fossil fuel projects are completely abandoned by this climate policy. It is absolutely vital that all of us who care about people and planet show up for them in their fights.

So. Starting next Monday, I’m going to institute “Movement Mondays” in which I post a climate action we can take in solidarity with communities around the country. This might be making a phone call or contributing to public comments about a proposed project. Whatever these communities need, we must add our voices to theirs. Everyone deserves clean air and clean water.

If you’ve read this far . . . solidarity! I hope to see you in the fight.

P.S. Here’s a Twitter thread that contains many of the concerns from many of the impacted communities around the country.

P.P.S. Here’s a bit from Kate Aronoff  in The New Republic:
Multiple things can be true at the same time. The Inflation Reduction Act—the first piece of climate policy to pass the Senate ever—is a historic achievement and vitally important given that Democrats may not get to govern again for a decade. It also consigns more people to living next to more fossil fuel infrastructure for longer; in many cases, that means consigning more people—predominantly poor people, Black people, and brown people—to disease and death. We don’t fully know what the bill will do. The IRA’s passage doesn’t close the book on U.S. climate policy so much as open it. As ever, the best guides to navigating what comes next will likely be the people who won it in the first place, and who’ll have to live the closest to its consequences.

A bouquet for me and thee

Yesterday was emotionally rough for me and upon waking this morning, I feared sinking into that dark place again. So, I vowed to keep myself occupied all day. We took Emma for a walk before it got too hot and after that, I cleaned, did laundry, wrote, did my yoga and hooped for a while. Somewhere in there, I also took a short nap with Loki-cat on my chest.

It’s now 7:00 p.m. and I made it through the day without tears. Might not seem like a lot, but today’s success gives me confidence and momentum for tomorrow. I’m celebrating with this wildflower bouquet.

Routt National Forest. July 12, 2022.

This bouquet is also offered up to anyone else struggling out there. You aren’t alone. You are beautiful and enough, just as you are. Keep shining your light.

focus unfocus

Sometimes it’s good to blur the lines a bit.

May 9, 2022

Disclosure: my intent in taking this photo was to capture the entire image in sharp focus. Didn’t turn out that way. But that’s okay, because focus isn’t always the be-all, end-all. It’s healthy to balance focus and a lack of focus. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I awaken from yet another bout of daydreaming.

Sunday Confessional: enthusiasm deficit

It’s been a rough day on the heels of other emotionally difficult days this week. Despite ordering one of these Let This Radicalize You (rather than lead you to despair) shirts a few days ago, I confess to tilting heavily toward despair right now. No need for me to list the multiple crises we’re facing because that’ll just make me more sad/angry and give people reason to quit reading.

Instead, I’ll celebrate the fact that I’m no longer withdrawing into myself and am here with a post. HELLO, OUT THERE!

Here’s one of my favorite recent photos:

June 22, 2022

Okay, that’s it for my burst of energy. Sending good wishes to anyone who’s read this far . . . 💚

What’s the plan

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
~ Mary Oliver

June 22, 2022

I don’t know about you, but the events of the past weeks have cranked up my attention-deficit tendencies as my brains thinks “I need to work on that issue which affects this and this issue, and then there’s this other issue which is also connected to this that and the other issue, but they’re all so so important and need immediate attention, so where to focus?”

And that’s how they want it. They’ve intentionally created chaos and hardship in order to grind us down. A whack-a-mole world in which we’re forced to constantly swing our mallets at the problems, diluting our energies and coating us in a thick layer of despair. (Brace yourselves for an upcoming SCOTUS opinion on the EPA and the end of environmental regulations.)

But, as Mariame Kaba says “Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.” [Note: one of the best books I’ve read, ever, is Kaba’s We Do This ‘Til We Free Us]. And as for my ADD thoughts about where to put my efforts, I found this Twitter thread immensely helpful:

The gist is: keep on doing what you’re doing PLUS be intentional about strengthening ties with other organizations/efforts to create more collaboration. Build on what you’re already doing.

Personally, my current plan is to continue revising my middle grade novel that’s a friendship story set against a backdrop of PIC abolition and restorative justice. Doing that work helps me avoid despair. Creativity has always brought me peace and balance, so add a pinch of radicalism in the content plus weave in some of what I’m continuing to learn, and I’m (currently) feeling solid re my focus in this one wild and precious life.

Please, reach out if you think your efforts/interests might align so that together we can build something bigger and stronger. ☀️

Intentional peace

Yesterday, we drove Moby the Great White Campervan to the mountains for some rest and relaxation. Our intention was a few hours of peace and rejuvenation. We’d never been there before and were thrilled to claim a small parking area next to Buffalo Creek. I explored with the camera and captured some nice shots. This is where I sat to work on my novel revisions.

Buffalo Creek. June 22, 2022

I sat in a chair on the little patch of beach at the bottom of the photo and revised a chapter on my laptop as Zippy and Emma napped in the van. Rushing water. Clean air. A shiny, green hummingbird buzzing in for a visit.

The entire experience soothed my spirit and, as I type these words, I’m already looking forward to a return visit. May each of us experience peace and rejuvenation in these very difficult days.

My reign as Domestic Goddess

I am incredibly grateful for the domestic gifts Zippy bestows upon me. Namely, handling all the cooking and grocery shopping. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t have to cook or shop. Except when it’s absolutely necessary, such as when Zippy has Covid. (Note: he is feeling better although still testing positive).

He first tested positive a week ago tomorrow and hasn’t had much of an appetite. Lucky for both of us. Him, because that meant he wasn’t subjected to my lack of cooking skills and me, because I wasn’t forced to exhibit my low-level kitchen intelligence. Zippy tolerated my quinoa and steamed broccoli (that I daringly “spiced up” with some snap peas and cut green beans) and the minimalist spinach “salads” garnished with halved cherry tomatoes and a splash of balsamic dressing. I skated by until last night.

It all started because I’d noticed a head of kale in the drawer.

Image by azboomer from Pixabay

I worried it was getting a bit droopy and asked what I could make with the kale before it went bad. Zippy replied, “Lots of things” in a tone that implied those many “things” were most definitely beyond my reach. “Like what?” I pressed. “Like “kale and potatoes,” he replied. “I can do that!” I proclaimed.

And Reader, I’m pleased to announce I did do just that. I successfully prepared a meal.  All it required was for Zippy to stay on speakerphone through the entire preparation. Halfway through the conversation when I apologized for being so inept that he had to talk me through the process as if I was defusing a bomb, he admitted our cooking conversation was the most exciting part of his day. Sad commentary on a week spent isolating in the basement. But for me, the excitement I derived from the experience was the fact that (with Zippy’s guidance) I didn’t botch the timing on everything as I have in the past when attempting to create something in the kitchen. I successfully timed:

  • the cooking of the kale
  • the browning of the onions, kale stems, and sprig of rosemary
  • the boiling of the potatoes
  • the adding-in of the kale
  • the final combining and cooking of all ingredients

Okay, that last step took too long and the kale still came out a bit undercooked/chewy. Other than that, I killed it!

But wait, there’s more! Today I went grocery shopping, at two different stores. Not only that, I’ve already returned home and put away the groceries . . . and it’s still daylight! So what if Zippy could have accomplished the same amount of shopping in a fraction of the time it took me? So what if I had to call him from the first store to help me locate the sliced sourdough bread? At the next store, I figured out all on my own where the salad dressing was shelved and confirmed there were no avocados. And is ketchup really necessary?

So, yeah. This past week has been a stark reminder of my very privileged life in which groceries and meals magically occur. For many, many reasons, Zippy and I are both looking forward to a full recovery and him resuming his reign.

Thankful, mostly

After staying safe and healthy for the past 2-plus years, Zippy has Covid and is quarantining in our home. I’ve done two rapid tests that came back negative and this morning felt good enough to do a 4-mile run. That’s very good news. The other very good news is Zippy no longer has a fever (his temperature was 101 on Tuesday when he tested positive). The bad news is I am very much aware that a “mild” case of Covid can cause long-term health issues and am trying hard not to think about the possibility of Long Covid.

Which is why I was exceedingly grateful to be able to run today. It was my first run since the BolderBoulder and I ran up our street to the trailhead, eager to be in my happy place again. About fifteen feet in, there was a broken robin’s eggshell in the middle of the trail. No sign of a nest or baby robins, but that bright blue shell was my first bird-related sighting. A few minutes later, four magpies few over head as another flapped-flapped-flapped to catch up. Farther along the trail, Spotted Towhees sang “sweet-sweet-teeaaaaa.” Later, a Western Meadowlark sang from its perch on a rabbitbrush. Absolute bliss.

But that wasn’t all: a bunny ran across the trail right in front of me! Insects chirped! Several other runners and hikers passed with dogs happy to be out on adventures! A good day to be alive.

There was some sadness, though. For the past couple months, I’ve checked a little round cactus at the turnaround spot, hoping to see signs of life. Hoping it was only temporarily dormant. Today I had to face reality and admit it will never bloom again. Fortunately, Zippy photographed it for me years ago so I have documentation of it in all its prickly and pink glory. Here it is again:

Thank you for the joy you brought me over the years, little cactus. You won’t be forgotten.

Bee calm

A little reminder to focus on the tiny, intricate miracles all around us.

September 12, 2020

This sedum isn’t blooming right now and I doubt many bees are currently buzzing in my yard, but . . .  someday soon.  In the meanwhile, I can gaze upon this image and will my mind and system into calm. *deep breaths* Maybe it can do the same for you. 💚

I receive these gifts

This morning, I ran on the trails for the first time in a while and my heart soared. A Red-winged Blackbird sang its song as I chugged up the first hill, but from then on out it was a magpie-rich experience. They raucously called from trees and flew overhead. One perched on a bush next to the trail and I watched it as I ran closer, regretting that my approach would startle it away. The regal corvid remained there until I was nearly within arm’s reach before flying across the ravine.

Black-billed Magpie out my window.  September 1, 2019

Just up the trail and around the corner on the approach to what we call the Bunny Run (because, you know, bunnies frequently seen there), two more magpies perched on either side of the trail, silhouetted against the sky. That sight prompted me to open my arms wide and proclaim out loud, “I receive this. Thank you!” And as I did, another gift appeared.

Photo by Jim Kennedy (Metzger Farm Open Space)

A coyote about 50 feet away, loping through the brush behind one of the magpies. The dark-faced coyote* stopped to watch me. I stopped and watched it, speaking in a low voice. Reassuring it that I came in peace. Then it took off again and I resumed running. When I reached the top of the Bunny Run, I stopped to look back. The coyote had also stopped to watch me. I waved, shouting my thanks and good wishes, and resumed the run with a smile and a little more pep in my step.

Farther up the trail, I saw two people. As I got closer, I realized one was sitting. In a chair? And then I noticed a hawk circling overhead. I watched the hawk as I ran, wondering at the flash of white underneath the wings. And just as it hit me that it wasn’t a hawk, I heard the loud buzzing sound. That non-hawk was a drone. Ugh. No more bird sounds. No more solitude. No more smile on my face.

But after grumpily running past the people and their drone, I reminded myself of all I’d already been gifted. So I less-grumpily continued up to the turnaround point at the top of The Slog (because, you know, never-ending uphill) and did my stretching. Then I raced down toward the people who sent up an even larger and louder drone right as I passed, and focused on the joy of movement. The only thing that mattered was being out on the trails again. Moving. Alive.

Thank you, universe. I receive these gifts.

* my search for images of dark-faced coyotes was unsuccessful

New week

We had a corvid-rich weekend. It began on Saturday with lots and lots of crows as we walked around a unfamiliar neighborhood (after Emma was too agitated at sight of other dogs in the park we’d gone to for a walk). Multiple flocks of crows flying overhead then perching in various trees. They brought many smiles.

Then yesterday morning, we were in our front yard when a flock of crows flew past. But that wasn’t all. Moments later, this raven perched in the tree across the street for several minutes, making its croaking sound.

Photo by Zippy. March 13, 2022

Today is the first day of a new week. My goal is to embody this raven’s energy, looking ahead to new opportunities and experiences. Courageous in the face of whatever life brings.

Joyful running

Despite my website banner that declares me a “Writer…Runner…Birder,” I haven’t run much over the past five months. A combination of things (notably fatigue resulting from the multiple collective traumas we’re experiencing) has kept me from lacing up the running shoes. Today, I discovered the perfect way to ease back into my much-loved activity and this easy-peasy method requires only two things:
1) a dog
2) snow piles

It goes like this: you run until you spot a patch of relatively clean snow. Then you pause while your canine friend flops onto the snow, plows her nose and forehead through the white stuff (doing the “submarine”), and concludes by rolling on her back to joyfully kick her legs in the air. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Example of Emma’s preferred cooling-down method on hike.  June 12, 2019.

My soon-to-be patented method accomplishes two things:
1) it allows your heart rate to calm down so you’re not tempted to quit
2) it cools off the dog and feeds her enthusiasm for the running

Try it, you’ll like it!

Emma and I ran a total of 2.5 miles this afternoon, taking many, many snow breaks. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t far, but we’re both feeling the good kind of tired that follows a workout.

Emma napping while I stretch, post-run.

Thankful Thursday: glimpses of joy

Life’s hard on a personal and global level these days, and I’m trying hard to find the joy.

  • Here are this morning’s writing session partners (Emma in the front row while Marcel sits in solidarity behind the laptop). The three of us made good progress in our middle-grade novel revisions (and we now have over 100 revised pages).

  • A much-needed zoom therapy session with Sara, who I now refer to as Saratonin (thanks to another client who bestowed the nickname).
  • Twenty minutes in the sunshine after the therapy session, in which I bundled up and stood on the south-face deck as I breathed in cold, clean air, listened to twittering birds, and felt immense gratitude for the natural world.

Snow-laden Mountain Mahogony.    February 24, 2022

Golden Yarrow. 2.24.22

O Monday where art thou?

Here it is nearly 5:30 of the p.m., sun gone for the day as temperatures drop and daylight slips away. I’ll admit, this is my least favorite time of winter days because of the increased risk of gloomy feelings that often involve beating myself up. As in, “you squandered those precious hours and what do you have to show for yourself now that it’s cold, dark, and dreary?”

Not playing those reindeer games today.

Bouquet from BB. February 2, 2022

Right now I’m basking in the glow of my accomplishments: Coffee and Wordle. Exercise.  Smoothing out trouble spots in my middle-grade novel, revising chapter 8, and falling in love with the manuscript all over again. A thoughtful phone conversation with Zebu. Laughter. Laundry. Email plus research for climate action meeting later this week. Finishing the excellent We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan. Healthy eating. Sharing snuggles with dog and cats (with special shout-out to Loki for lying down next to me while I did foam roller stretching).

It is true I respond best to blue skies and sunshine glinting off snow. But on this Monday evening, I’m content.

Apropos

This image of our Christmas Cactus (aka Schlumbergera) is sharp in places and soft in others because the camera’s focus wasn’t evenly distributed. In other words, a perfect image for today.

November 17, 2021

Why? Because:

  1. I’m experiencing ptsd-related issues in which my eyes struggle to process detail**, which means this mixture of sharp and soft feels familiar and
  2. while rereading my critique partners’ notes during today’s session of revision work on my latest middle grade novel, their comments revealed that while some parts of my story were in sharp, undeniable detail, other components were so soft around the edges those readers were unable to interpret intent.

This lovely bloom is a reminder that I need to keep working on my focus.

**for which I’m doing daily vision therapy to bring my eyes back into balance

Twofer Tuesday: House Finch edition

These finches (look closely, there are two) offer a good representation for my current emotional and mental state.

January 1, 2022

Sometimes my feelings are bright, cheery, and upbeat–as they were yesterday while walking in the sunshine with Emma Jean-Jean–and other times my emotions feel more drab and less hopeful, as this morning when tears overwhelmed me during my first yoga session in a while.

The good news is that nature always provides. During that same yoga session, feeders outside the window were visited by a flock of twenty or so wee Bushtits, reminding me of the power of community. Bushtits stick together, chipping and twittering as they forage in a tree and move on to another.

We’re not alone in this difficult reality and I’m grateful for my communities, including this one here.

Sunday Confessional: negative mood

More than four days after taking the saliva test, COVIDCheck Colorado let me know my test results came back negative. Great news! Unfortunately, I feel worse today than yesterday when I was actually able to take a walk around the neighborhood without collapsing in a heap afterward (which is what happened the day before).

Image by Ronald Plett from Pixabay

I’m sure it’s stress-related. What’s being done to healthcare workers, children, teachers and all school employees, service workers, etc. in the name of capitalism is horrifying and rage-inducing. Like watching a slow-motion train wreck.

Looking forward to regaining my energy so I can run some of these feelings out of my system. Please take care of yourselves and know you aren’t alone. Solidarity!

Mood

Pretty sure I have Covid right now (while being the most introverted version of my introverted self during this pandemic).

Pretty sure Wildebeest has Covid (while working for starvation wages in the restaurant industry that prioritizes people’s “rights” to dine inside, maskless, while the poor/desperate workers drop like flies).

Positive that Zebu had Covid a couple weeks ago.

Absolutely, positive we should (at minimum) be receiving monthly checks along with a package of N95 masks and testing kits from our government. Not to mention, Biden should issue a patent waiver on vaccines to help the rest of the world’s population.

Equally positive none of that’s gonna happen. We the people are expendable in this equation.

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay